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Prince Andrew Says New York’s Child Victims Act Is ‘Unconstitutional,’ Doesn’t Apply Because Virginia Giuffre Was Over 17

Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre

Prince Andrew stands with his arm around Virginia Giuffre’s waist as Ghislaine Maxwell stands in the background looking on. Giuffre included this photograph in her lawsuit against the British royal.

Attorneys for Prince Andrew on Monday argued that a lawsuit by accuser Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) should be tossed out of court because of a release agreement Giuffre signed in 2009. The prince’s attorneys also argue that Giuffre was older than 17 when the alleged abuse took place and that she therefore has no valid claim under an underlying New York State law.

Giuffre has long alleged that she was trafficked to the British royal while being simultaneously used as Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slave. According to Giuffre, Ghislaine Maxwell introduced her to the prince — whose full name is Andrew Albert Christian Edward — and told her to “do for him what you do for Epstein.” The years-long accusations resulted in Prince Andrew finally being served with a lawsuit in late August. In the lawsuit, Giuffre claims the prince sexually abused her at two of Epstein’s properties (a New York mansion and a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands) and also at Maxwell’s London home.

The lawsuit took considerable time to get traction, since Prince Andrew was difficult to serve with the requisite court papers — an issue a federal judge bemoaned before Prince Andrew finally conceded service of process.

The Monday court papers which seek to jettison the case are styled as a “reply in support” of a motion to dismiss the case under Rule 12(b)(6). They argue, in part, that a secret 2009 release agreement signed by Giuffre bars her claims against the prince. The release agreement was filed under seal and is not part of the public record, the motion indicates.

The newly filed documents explain, at least in part:

Giuffre also tries to manufacture a “dispute” about the validity of the Release Agreement. Yet Giuffre does not dispute that she signed the Release Agreement to settle the Epstein Action and received [redacted] in exchange for [redacted]. There is no evidence that Giuffre sought to rescind the Release Agreement or otherwise challenge its validity. It is all too convenient that, after accepting [redacted] from Epstein, Giuffre now refuses to be bound by the very contractual obligations that constituted consideration for [redacted].

“Prince Andrew requests only that the Court interpret the plain language of the Release Agreement,” the motion continues.

The release document, at least according to Prince Andrew’s attorneys, precludes a Giuffre win in court.

“Prince Andrew falls within the class,” the lawsuit says before trailing off in another redaction — presumably to again argue that the British heir is protected under the document. “The release is not limited to potential co-conspirators identified by the federal government, as Giuffre suggests,” it argues in a footnote (emphasis in original).

The motion goes on to argue that Giuffre’s lawsuit “ignores” New York State’s Child Victims Act, or CVA, a law which in part allows adult victims to file new claims against defendants who perpetrated acts of alleged abuse years ago. The reason? Prince Andrew’s attorneys noted that Giuffre has indicated she was above the age of 17 but younger than 18 when the alleged sexual abuse occurred — thus setting up a showdown between New York’s age of consent and the language of the CVA.

Again, from the court papers (emphases in original; citations omitted):

In her Opposition, Giuffre asks the Court to ignore the canons of statutory construction and disregard the CVA’s limitations on its claims revival provision. The CVA only permits a plaintiff to pursue otherwise time-barred civil claims against a party for harm suffered as a result of conduct which would constitute a sexual offense as defined in article one hundred thirty of the [New York] penal law committed against a child less than eighteen years of age,” incest, or the use of a child in a sexual performance, “which conduct was committed against a child less than eighteen years of age.” In other words, a party may face civil liability for his conduct – notwithstanding any applicable statute of limitations – only if that conduct violates specific New York State laws. Accordingly, Prince Andrew’s alleged conduct in 2001, purportedly constituting a sexual offense under Article 130, is a predicate act that Giuffre must plead in order to pursue this action twenty years after the events described in the Complaint. Because Giuffre has not alleged such conduct, she is not entitled to rely on the CVA to support her claims against Prince Andrew.

The document then argues that New York’s Child Victims Act is “unconstitutional.”

“It is not a foregone conclusion that the CVA is a reasonable measure to address an injustice, nor has a decision on the subject been issued by the New York Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit, or the U.S. Supreme Court,” Prince Andrew’s attorneys argue. They continue (again, citations omitted):

The CVA revives claims for those who allegedly suffered harm as a result of certain sexual offenses they claim were committed against them when they were under the age of eighteen, even though the age of consent in New York is seventeen. While lack of consent is established as a matter of law for individuals who were under the age of seventeen at the time of the alleged underlying sexual offense, the issue of consent is unsettled with regard to those – like Giuffre – who were between the ages of seventeen and eighteen. In that regard, lack of consent is an element of an Article 130 offense that must be affirmatively established when the alleged victim is over the age of seventeen.

[ . . . ]

Giuffre and other similarly situated individuals may establish lack of consent by an “implied threat,” or, for certain offenses, by “any circumstances in which the victim does not expressly or impliedly acquiesce.” These highly subjective determinations are the kind most likely to be hampered by the passage of time, as memories fade, false memories are created, and witnesses die or otherwise become unavailable. Here, the only witnesses to the purported implied threats under which Giuffre allegedly engaged in unconsented sex acts with Prince Andrew are Epstein (deceased), Maxwell (incarcerated), Prince Andrew (the accused) and Giuffre herself. According to Giuffre’s tortured interpretation of the CVA, it revives civil claims for plaintiffs who allegedly suffered sexual abuse when they were seventeen years of age or older based solely on the unverified (and unverifiable) contention that they did not consent to those acts. This is not a reasonable mechanism to address the injustice of child sexual abuse in New York.

Giuffre’s original complaint alleged battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Read the full arguments below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.